Rogers to open with Watson
Chris Rogers has been confirmed as Shane Watson's opening partner for Australia in the first Investec Test against England at Trent Bridge. The Australia coach, Darren Lehmann, said Rogers had been inked in to partner Watson on the eve of the tourists' final Ashes warm-up match against Worcestershire at New Road.
"Watson and Rogers will open the batting for Australia, I'm comfortable with that, they'll play the first Test," Lehmann said. "All the rest are in the frame, but Rogers has obviously been picked for a reason by the previous selection panel and we're really comfortable with that, he's had a great summer here with Middlesex, made two big hundreds and been in good form."
Rogers was understandably delighted to know he is guaranteed to add to his one Test match, against India in Perth in January 2008.
"I'm naturally excited. It's a huge thrill," Rogers said. "Anyone who has been selected doesn't want to be a one-Test wonder. I had probably given up hope at times but I guess with the new selection committee and retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey it gave me a bit of hope that they would pick an older head.
"I can just enjoy it and really see that there is nothing to lose. I didn't expect this opportunity and hopefully I can play well. If that happens hopefully we can win a few games as well."
The decision means Ed Cowan and David Warner have been deposed as Australia's opening combination after a moderately successful union over the previous 18 months. Both must now will vie for the remaining places in Australia's first Test batting line-up, Cowan potentially at No. 3 and Warner further down.
Ryan Harris and Jackson Bird have slim chances of squeezing into the bowling quartet for Trent Bridge, but the resting of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and the spinner Nathan Lyon for the tour match in Worcester is the strongest indication yet that they will be the frontline attack for Australia.
The captain, Michael Clarke, is playing in further pursuit of time in the middle following his early tour back complaint, while Watson is marked down to bowl against Worcestershire after being kept away from allrounder duties against Somerset.
Apart from anointing Rogers, Lehmann said that he was considering a five-man bowling attack for Trent Bridge, which would likely have Brad Haddin and the uncapped James Faulkner batting at Nos. 6 and 7.
Lehmann also indicated that Steve Smith and Ashton Agar, initially called into the Ashes squad as temporary tourists after the Australia A tour, would be staying on for the entire tour, bringing the party's number to 18. Both will play against Worcestershire. "I think they'll be here for most of it," Lehmann said. "We haven't finalised that but they'll be in the squad for the tour and they're a chance to play in the first Test like everyone else."
Australian XI to play Worcestershire: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, Ed Cowan, Chris Rogers, Phillip Hughes, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon (12th man).
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here